Global Fashion Summit 2023: Will Luxury Fashion Survive the Sustainable Movement?
As sustainability advocates, the Global Fashion Summit is our Met Gala. We care about who’s there, whether the attendees were on theme, and their statements during the event.
On June 27 and 28, 2023, fashion industry leaders, designers, and sustainability experts gathered in Copenhagen for the Global Fashion Summit. The Summit debuted in 2009 and has since become an annual discussion on the most critical environmental, social, and ethical issues facing the industry, people, and our planet.
The two-day event is presented by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) – a non-profit organization that fosters industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion to drive impact. The Summit was GFA’s solution to bringing leadership from around the world together, where they become inspired to drive change within the sustainable movement.
As for the theme? This year's focus was “Ambition to Action.” Keeping a positive tone and “uplifting sense of clarity,” the theme focuses on tangible impact. Despite the sustainable developments we have seen in recent years, issues of “greenwashing” and “diversity washing” are at an all-time high. Producer and author Samata Pattinson perfectly summed it up: "I love our industry, but we often mark our homework and give ourselves A’s.”
Some notable guest speakers included Antoine Arnault, image and environment at LVMH Group, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, founder of Fashion is Psychology, and Jonathan Anderson, founder of JW Anderson and creative director of Loewe. For two days, they were openly transparent with each other as industry leaders in addressing overproduction, decarbonizing the supply chain, using sustainable material at scale, and implementing sustainable policy.
We walked away from the Summit with a list of key takeaways regarding sustainable fashion today, and we recommend reading Nylon and Vogue’s roundup list. But as a company supporting a circular model within the luxury industry, here’s what stuck out to us about the future of luxury and circular fashion.
FASHION SHOWS AREN’T GOING TO STOP
Arnault began by saying that “luxury products are sustainable by nature” due to their durability and repairability. Anderson went on to say that sustainability is always top of mind among young designers. He said that during the hiring processes at Loewe, the young fashion school graduates ask him about the company's sustainable credentials, which is an ethical priority for them as professionals. Also, as an LVMH Prize jury member, he said that 90 percent of the collections he sees have a sustainable angle.
We have addressed the controversy about the numerous fashion shows and collections outside the ready-to-wear category, and the industry leaders' conclusions are just as expected. Anderson said the fashion show is “there for the dream,” which is critical to the industry. “They haven’t slowed down. What’s very important is that we do them differently,” said Arnault. “We used to export an entire show and do another one in L.A., Seoul, and Hawaii. Now we use local communities, local productions, and local castings.”
INNOVATION NEEDS TO BE ACCESSIBLE FOR GREATER IMPACT
But what does this wave of innovative fashion mean for smaller and independent designers? Hillary Taymour, the designer for Collina Strada, one of the best sustainable brands in the game, weighed in on how it affects her label. “All this innovation that’s so amazing is not available for brands like us to purchase right now,” she said. “We need to work together as a fashion industry instead of each man for themself.” As an influential designer, she encourages brands to return to the basics, use locally sourced materials, and keep everything in-house.
WE NEED TO BUY LESS
The most important takeaway from the Summit that Tulerie continues to preach to our community is that less is always more. “Why are we not addressing the issue that we have so much here?” says Nicole Mclaughlin, a designer who worked with Heiko Desens, global creative director of PUMA, in the GFA Designer Challenge 2023. “I want to see companies taking responsibility for all the clothes they’ve made in the past.” She suggests finding a solution to the lifespan of the products by emphasizing localization, repair shops, and slower production.
Despite the great conversations in Copenhagen, there is still more to discuss. Global Fashion Agenda will host another International Summit in Boston on September 27, where they will continue the theme of “Ambition to Action.” Home to renowned fashion brands and leading retailers, it is exciting to see North America hosting the following forum where the sustainable transformations of the industry can reach a broader and more diverse audience.
-As always, elevate your wardrobe with respected fashion and embrace the shift in style!
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